This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Kumar Deepak. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

If This Tree In Assam Is Cultivated, It Can Lead To An Income Of ₹57 Lakhs!

More from Kumar Deepak

Aquilaria malaccensis, the Agar tree, is a product of the religious and cultural aroma of the north-eastern region that has been creating a paradigm shift. It has been a major factor in setting up a green economic stewardship in the region, to explore new dynamics of ‘access and benefit sharing’. By empowering the rights of aboriginal residents over the gross natural capital flow, it ensures rural livelihood generation. Aquilaria malaccensis isn’t just an aromatic plant – it’s a substrate of the economic prosperity drive in the north-eastern region of India.

While travelling to the eastern districts of Assam viz; Lakhimpur and Dhemaji (in close proximity to the Pasighat District, Arunachal Pradesh), I visited the areas of Seelaphatar, Dekkapam, Telam, Jonai, Pasighat, etc. Though these rural, tribal habitations are perfect for being developed into ideal natural rural eco-tourism destinations, the respective governments of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have, so far, failed to set up an infrastructure of rural eco-tourism, despite a well advanced logistics structure interlinking these regions to the cities of Guwahati, Nagaon, Tejpur, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Pasighat.

I am working on the rural green economics of Agar, and its role in the natural capital pool of the local tribal settlements. Aquilaria malaccensis is locally known as Xasi/Agar. Agar is used in world class perfumeries as a fixative and is highly prized by European perfumers for mixing their best grade scents. It acts as a stimulant, cardiotonic and carminative, aphrodisiac, alternative anodyne, antidiarrheal, antiasthmatic, astringent, laxative/stomachic and tonic, etc.

When I was interacting with the local agar planters, they classified the Aquilaria agallocha into ‘Jati Sanchi’ and ‘Bohla Sanchi’ varieties. ‘Bohla Sanchi’ is a quickly growing type but its yield is lesser than that of ‘Jati Sanchi’. ‘Jati Sanchi’ is preferred for commercial cultivation. A. agallocha prefers highly humid, sub-tropical climate with a rainfall of around 1800-3500 mm per annum. Agar is a sun loving tree and requires lots of sunshine for growth, attaining a height of 40 m. Agar culture is adapted to the well-drained deep sandy loam soil, or loam rich in organic matter. It can profitably be grown in the marginal soils, as well as in the shallow soils over rocky beds with cracks and crevices. Agar growing habitations show that it prefers acidic soil reactions. Mycorrhiza and other beneficial fungi, which extract their growth from rich acidic soil substrate, are responsible for Agar oil formation.

While interacting with Biren Doley, a local Agar planter from Telam, I learnt that a stem borer, Zeuzera conferta, bores into the standing Agar tree trunk and makes tunnels inside the tree trunks. Fungi enter the plant through the vertical hollow part of the zigzag tunnel inside the stem, which acts as the primary site of infection. Large volumes of wood get infected. Agar wood formation depends on the high intensity and frequency of insect infestation in the infected areas within seven to eight years after infection. Agar trees produce resins as a part of the internal immunity mechanism against the infection of Mycorrhiza and other fungal species. Such resinification of accumulated Oleoresins produces a high degree of precious Agar oil and agaru. Mr Doley says that such infection mostly occurs due to natural or mechanical injuries on the tree trunk, but it’s very localized. Oleoresins get accumulated in the affected wood in the wake of resistance against fungal infection. Later it becomes odoriferous.

Mr Doley says that there is a brown streak in the tissue in its early stages of infection. Accumulation of Oleoresins gets deeper as the infection ages and the rate of infection intensifies. As more of the Oleoresins are deposited, the colour of the infected wood gets intensified, and finally, it becomes dark black due to an increase in the concentration of accumulated oleoresins. The hollow tunneling inside the trunk of the living tree seems conducive to agaru formation.

Mr Doley says that if the fungal infection takes place when the plant is 5-6 years old, then, on average, 10 years is sufficient to access commercial agar wood or agaru in plants. In a natural forest, only 20%-25% of the A. agallocha species may get infected and become productive. Based on the rate of infection, these trees are slightly infected, moderately infected, or severely affected. Local private Agar planters apply mechanical injuries before breaking the dormancy and before the spring, through a deep slanting cut with a sharp dao (axe). Such artificial injuries provide an infection site for the stem borer, and also pushes the tree towards undergoing a stress condition. Such a stressful state facilitates the infection. The ‘Dum Type’ of product obtained from treatment for oil extraction is locally popular as ‘Ghap Mal’.

Mr Doley, while discussing the timing of collection of Agar trees for oil extraction as well as agaru, says that it is done throughout the year. But the preferred conducive period of extraction is from February to May. Extracted oil during the dormant period possesses the finest odour because the oil contains less waxy substances during that season.

Mr Doley accepts that the local planters don’t get prices for Agar oil and agaru in accordance with the national and international prices. While talking about the gross income of small scale and medium sized private planters, he roughly estimated the cost and benefit analysis of around 3000 A. agallocha species in two hectares of the farmland in 20 years’ time to be as follows:

Total expenditure for first 10 years = ₹6,74,000

Total expenditure for next 10 years = ₹1,74,000

Gross expenditure over plantation of 3000 A. agallocha Species in two hectares of land = ₹7,48,000

This expenditure is the gross expense, covering the cost of fencing, land preparation, plantation cost, sapling cost, labour cost, pesticides/compost/fertilizer cost, inoculation cost and other miscellaneous costs.

Anticipated yield and income generally comprise of two phases. As an interim yield, 40% of the selected Agar plants are harvested in the first phase. This is done with the objective of gaining interim income and reducing the density of Agar trees so that remaining 60% can grow well in the next 10 years.

Mr Doley denies getting exact market prices at the national and international levels. He provides a rough estimate of the localized rate on which the entrepreneurs have been procuring their products.

  • Yield of distillable wood (low-quality Dum/Boya) from 10-year-old trees – approx. 20 kg per tree at ₹10 per kg.
  • Yield of ‘Dum’ quality from 20-year-old trees is approx. 50 kg per tree at ₹50 per kg.
  • Yield of ‘Batli Mal/kalagachi’ in 20 years is approx. 0.5 kg per tree at ₹2000 per kg.

Gross Return:

  • At the 10th year, total interim income = ₹240000
  • At the final harvest, total return from Dum quality = ₹4500000
  • Total return from ‘Batli’ quality = ₹2000000

And so, the gross return is around ₹6500000, while the gross expenditure is around ₹748000, leading to a gross income of ₹5752000.

This is a rough cost and benefit sharing analysis as per the localized procurement pricing, which exhibits an exponential transition in the rural economy, within the paradigm of green economics. This is paradoxical to the fact that the aboriginal communities need a massive investment for increasing the per capita income as well as enhancing the quality of life.

Aquilaria agallocha and A. malaccensis are two major Agar species widely distributed in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and West Bengal. Assam is the heart of Agar trade in India. Hojai town of Nagaon District is the major producer of Agar wood. During 2002-03, Assam Forest Department claimed that more than 9000000 agar trees in the various age groups were enumerated in the non-forest lands/private lands. More than 9100 agar oil extraction units are working in Assam requiring around 728000 trees of agar which are supplied by agar farmers. More than 50,000 workers are involved in the agar business while another 1.5 lakh benefits from it indirectly.

Agar oil is classified according to the quality of the oils viz; Boya, Boha and Khara. National and International pricing vary from ₹500 to ₹1200 per Tola (11.62g). International market price ranges from a few dollars per kg to $30000 for top quality oil and resinous wood.

Unsustainable logging and trafficking of Agar wood from the natural forest have forced the government to bring international trade within sustainable limits. A. malaccensis and A. agallocha are, therefore, listed under critically endangered species in India under the Conservation on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES 2009) and almost extinct in the wild in Assam. Since Agar provides a natural capital flow which contributes to rural livelihoods and economic prosperity for the marginalized, the respective state governments of the north-eastern states must ensure incentives to growers for plantation of Agar wood trees on private/farm lands. The government must ensure sustainable utilization of the Agar wood including harvesting, processing, transit and trade. There is a need to develop suitable strategies to augment its natural regeneration, artificial regeneration and conservation. Addressing research and development for sustainable harvesting would propagate a better structure of agar plantation. There must be regulation over Agar wood processing and marketing for industrial units.

Agar entrepreneurs are exploiting the local agar growers. They are offering minimum procurement prices for local and private agar growers. Such a state of inequality of prices has been prevailing for over a decade or so. There are proactive agents who have been playing a key role between local/private growers and entrepreneurs, and are accessing a large share of the profit. Such middlemen should be prohibited if the government thinks of offering a transparent price policy regulatory measure for the local/private agar growers.

The Draft Policy for Sustainable Utilization of Agar Wood, 2014, from the Department of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India stipulates assigned management initiatives for the sustainable utilization of agar wood:

  • Documentation of information on geographical distribution and resource base.
  • Packages of cultivation, value additions, market status, domestic policies for growers by the concerned state government.
  • Formation of rules and regulations for harvesting, marketing, industries and trade policies.
  • Pricing pattern, social-economic dimensions as per requirement of the concerned state may be further supported by a minimum support price.

Aquilaria species/Agar is a driver of economic empowerment for the marginalized aboriginal/native/tribal communities in the north-eastern states of India. Such rural communities are exploring the green economic opportunities by planting agar trees in their land holdings. Such a plantation drive for Agar trees is not only working to combat climate change and pollution but is creating a conducive atmosphere for rain, as well as generating a healthy ecosystem. Agar growers are forging a dynamic revolution in the resurgence of green economics in the rural habitations of the north-eastern states of India. Exploring these alternate natural livelihoods would alleviate poverty by empowering marginalized aboriginal communities.

You must be to comment.
  1. Sept Halai

    Iam from Arunchal pradesh of lohit district, iam thinking of planting Agarwood in my land .but don’t know the where i can get the plant and how to harvest , whom to supply the product? The whole process i wanted to know . and the mrket price , is it a profitable plant??

  2. raviteja pavan

    Hie deepak can I have your contact number would like to talk to you
    Thanks regarding agarwood

  3. Dibya Marcel

    Get I your contract number ? agar plantation…

More from Kumar Deepak

Similar Posts

By Ombir Sharma

By BaluSingh RajPurohit

By team

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below